15 Strategic Questions to Answer to Determine your New Year's Goals (and then nail them.)

I am wildly excited about New Year's.

No, not New Year's Eve, but the new year. The fresh slate. The beginning. The opportunity to make changes and to do life better. 

This week, as things are likely still a bit slow at work, is the ideal time to carve out some you time to reflect on the year behind and strategize about the year ahead.

This year represents 1% or more of your life. It deserves some contemplation and strategy.

As you're thinking about who you want to be and what you want to have accomplished by this time next year, I challenge you to consider these 15 strategic questions. The answers to these questions will help you determine exactly what your goals should be and what you need to do to achieve them. 

So carve out some time on your calendar, grab a moleskin or virtually grab a notepad on your computer, put a pot of coffee on or heat up the kettle and answer these questions. 

15 Strategic Questions that Will Help You Achieve Your New Year's Goals

1. How do you want to be different one year from now? What do you want to have accomplished one year from today?

2. Why do you want to make this change? What is your deeper motivation? 

3. What do you need to do this year to get there? What are the practical steps you need to take?

4. If you could accomplish three specific things this year, what would they be? 

5. Two specific things?

6. One specific thing? 

7. What books do you need to read to help you reach these goals?

8. What podcasts do you need to listen to?

9. What habits are currently a part of your life that don't support your goals? What are some practical ways you can release yourself from those habits? 

10. What habits do you need to adopt?

11. What relationships do you need to cultivate? Who do you need to ask to lunch? 

12. What relationships do you need to step away from? Which friendships in your life are draining, discouraging or are adversarial? 

13. What are all the possible obstacles that may pose problems for achieving your goals? How can you prepare for them in advance? 

14. How can you break down your big year vision into smaller, more manageable goals? What are the practical small goals that add up to your bigger goals?

15. What can you do in the next three months to put yourself closer to your ultimate goal? What can you accomplish in the first quarter of the year to give yourself a winning start to the year?

Nailing your goals starts with determining where you want to be a year from now. Start with the end in mind and zoom out before you zoom in. To reach your goals, determine what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, and what strategies you need to put in place to ensure success.

If you liked this post you may like this one about how to kick the new year in the pants or this one about social media resolutions .

4 Non-negotiables of a Quarterly Zoom Out

quarterlyzoomout.jpg

I live for milestones. 

I’ve always loved New Years Day. I’ve been guilty of making “June Resolutions” and finally last year (the year building up to the big 3-0) I started making monthly and quarterly goals. 

I’m a classic ENFP who’s constantly probing within. “Am I doing all I can? Am I being intentional enough? Am I spending time on things that matter? Will I have a lasting impact? Am I living up to my potential?”

It can get a little intense.

One of the most effective ways I’ve come to deal with this non-stop interrogative energy within is to stop everything once every quarter. 

On this day I shut down social media. Grab the books that I’m close to finishing. Open Pages in my MacBook. Pull up my latest list of goals. And just think.

Think. Write. Read. Think some more. Walk around. 

And think.

On this day that comes but four times a year I go back to what my big crazy goals were for the entire year. These are the things that I really want to contribute and achieve but let’s be honest, these things are hard. It’s much easier to get busy with the things that other people are expecting of me: the boss’ deadline, getting dinner on the table, volunteer commitments. 

But these big crazy goals, these bigger dreams involve research, time, figuring out complex ideas that take me a while to mull over. They also involve the possibility of facing rejection. (Yikes.) 

But after I’ve come away from the Quarterly Zoom Out (QZO is a fun acronym) I have greater clarity and a greater vision for the future. I’ve probably even ticked off a few nagging items from my goal list. 

I’m not the only one who vibes with QZO. Greg McKeown author of the New York Times bestseller Essentialism said:

“Sometimes we spend more time planning our vacation than planning our careers. One cure to this is to schedule a quarterly offsite. We can take a few hours every few months to think about the bigger picture questions: ‘If I can only achieve three things over the next three months what should they be?’ and ‘Where do I want to be five years from now?’ When we don’t take time to ask these more strategic questions we become a function of other people’s agendas. We are left to react to the latest email and can become rudderless; blown about by every wind of corporate change.”

To further map out what a QZO includes, here are my top four non-negotiables: 

1. Solitude. I can’t be in a public place where I’m bound to run into people I like and want to catch up with. I need to be somewhere where I can’t be found. 

2. A blank page. Now whether it is literal or digital doesn’t so much matter but I have to have a way to get my thoughts out and work through them. 

3. Time. It takes me a little while to settle into the zone and reflect on what’s been happening, decide what I want to make happen and write what needs to be written. A QZO only works for me if it is more than a four-hour stretch.

4. A break from routine. For me this means that I never have a QZO in my home office. It helps trigger my brain to get creative and approach the day differently than other days. I like to try and never do two QZOs in the same place. Although, I do have a favorite QZO location. 

QZOs are a refreshing opportunity to put daily work on pause and check in with yourself. If you sometimes feel like the urgent gets all of your energy and the important gets very little, consider implementing a QZO. Here's your challenge: implement the “rule of three.” Every 3 months take 3 hours to identify 3 things you want to accomplish over the next 3 months. 

Do you do something like this? Once a month? Once a quarter? I want to hear about what you do to reflect and recenter. 

5 Lessons I Learned from Viewing 4000 Pieces of Picasso's Art

Me and "Picasso."
Me and "Picasso."

Well friends, JC and I returned to the states on Sunday after a little over a week in London and Barcelona. It was an incredible trip that was jam packed with tours, museums and imagining what life was like in the shoes of some pretty influential, awe-inspiring people. Our days in London and Barcelona had us pulling back the curtain on the lives of Winston Churchill, Paul McCartney (and the Beatles), Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudí.

Today I want to share with you some of the lessons that stood out to me as I toured the Museu Picasso de Barcelona. The museum has a permanent collection of over 4000 pieces created by Pablo Picasso. The pieces are organized chronologically so we saw how Picasso's style evolved over the years, step by step. The first section was a collection of paintings Picasso created when he was about 14. The first thing I noticed?

1. You don't become a world class artist without starting with an unusual amount of natural talent. 

"Man in Beret" by Picasso, age 14
"Man in Beret" by Picasso, age 14

2. Talent must be cultivated. Picasso started formal artistic training with his father at age 7. He was enrolled at Barcelona's School of Fine Arts at age 13. And he never really stopped learning. In 1900 he moved to Paris, the art capital of Europe. He was influenced by many other artists and continued to grow.

3. Picasso was prolific. Picasso clearly did not just paint when he "felt" like it. While I saw some 4000 of his works at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, the total number of art works he created in his lifetime has been estimated at 50,000: 1,885 paintings; 1,228 sculptures; 2,880 ceramics, roughly 12,000 drawings, many thousands of prints, and tons of tapestries and rugs.

4. Evolution is integral. Picasso's style greatly evolved from the time of classical realistic paintings in his teens to his blue period (in which he only painted in blue shades for three years) to finally arriving at the cubism he is famous for creating. Change can be scary but it's important to grow.

"Science and Charity" by Picasso, age 16
"Science and Charity" by Picasso, age 16
Mother and Child, by Picasso age 23
Mother and Child, by Picasso age 23

5."Bad artists copy, good artists steal." -Picasso One of my favorite portions of the collection at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona was a series of 58 paintings Picasso worked on for an entire year in 1957. Picasso went deep analyzing and riffing on the famous painting Las Meninas by Diego Velásquez. Picasso donated the entire collection to the museum--the only complete collection in one place today.

This is what Picasso said about it: "If someone want to copy Las Meninas, entirely in good faith, for example, upon reaching a certain point and if that one was me, I would say..what if you put them a little more to the right or left? I'll try to do it my way, forgetting about Velázquez. The test would surely bring me to modify or change the light because of having changed the position of a character. So, little by little, that would be a detestable Meninas for a traditional painter, but would be my Meninas." -Picasso, 1950

Las Meninas by Velasquez, 1656
Las Meninas by Velasquez, 1656
Las Meninas, by Picasso age 75
Las Meninas, by Picasso age 75

Creativity and contribution may not come from a completely original piece but rather a new take on something older. Maria Popova said it so well: “Creativity is combinatorial: Alive and awake to the world, we amass a collection of cross-disciplinary building blocks — knowledge, memories, bits of information, sparks of inspiration, and other existing ideas — that we then combine and recombine, mostly unconsciously, into something ‘new.’ From this vast and cross-disciplinary mental pool of resources beckons the infrastructure of what we call our ‘own’ ‘original’ ideas.”

I was awash with inspiration walking through the halls of these great museums seeing the work that has far outlasted the lifetimes of the people who brought these great creations to life. I've come back from vacation just a little more determined to leave something useful or inspiring behind one day. They certainly did life on purpose. I want to as well.

Have you ever encountered a performance, piece of art or history that made you want to take action yourself? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 

The 20 Essentials: What Every Solopreneur Needs for Success

20 Essentials Every Solopreneur Needs for Success

20 Essentials Every Solopreneur Needs for Success

Over the years,  I've learned in my work as a solopreneur that success of course takes determination, creativity, guts, faith and talent, but there are also a bunch of other things that every solopreneur should be using or doing to achieve great things. Here's my list.

20 Essentials Every Solopreneur Needs to Succeed

1. Website. If you're a solopreneur, I hate to break it to you, but if you don't have a website, you don't exist. Services like Squarespace and Wix make it possible for you to easily create your own. 

2. Twitter presence. Every solopreneur needs to take advantage of this social media platform. It is an ideal platform for anyone who is seeking to leverage their expertise. 

3. A desk with a ton of space. I got this desk from World Market a few months back . It almost doubled my work space. It's been GREAT. Bonus: it was also easy to put together.

4. Google voice number. If you're a solopreneur this saves you from using your minutes on work-related calls. Get that free Google voice number and let them call your "office line." 

5. Buffer app.This let's you pre-schedule social posts with regularity. I'd skip it for Facebook but it's perfect for Twitter and Linkedin. 

6. Pocket. This digital bookmark lets you save pages you'd like to look at later. If you strive to be a content curator around your given area of expertise, this is a great way to save content that you can share later.

7.Tweetdeck(or Hootsuite if you're into that). Every solopreneur needs a way to manage multiple accounts at once. I like Tweetdeck best to glance at my Twitter feed, notifications, lists and sent posts all at once. 

8. An optimized Linkedin account. If someone is searching for someone like you, will you pop up in their search results? 

9. About.me page. It's too easy not to use. Get one. 

10. Solid headshots (and other professional photos for your website and social media would be great too.) 

11.  Wordpress blog. For SEO purposes, for customization options, for credibility--you need a self-hosted Wordpress site. 

12. A lunch break. Get out of your office. Unplug. Go for a run, heck a walk will do. Get some sunshine. Then get back to work. Solopreneurs can easily never stop working. That's why you need to be intentional about time off.

13. A clear list of what only you can do and what can be outsourced. Are you terrible at bookkeeping? What about answering emails? Scheduling things? What about tending to your plants or housekeeping? Could you plausibly use independent contractors so you can focus on the strategic items on your list? Figure out what you can outsource and outsource it. 

14. A group to connect with on the regular—whether it is a remote team, a book club or a business professionals weekly gathering, you need to be in community. 

15. The 4-Hour WorkweekBuy this book. Read this book. Apply the principles.(See #16.) Your life will be better for it. Guaranteed. 

16. Batch similar tasks. Let's save the decision-making brain power for what really matters. In the meantime, how bout you do all your blog writing at the same time once a week--heck, once a month. How bout you do your grocery shopping only on Sundays? Shifting your focus throughout the day is tough on your brain. Shift less. Focus more.

17. Track your time. Afraid you might be wasting too much time on a given vice? Track your time. It doesn't have to be a complex process. Just jot down how you're spending your time throughout the day on a notebook next to your computer. Do you keep to your schedule or do you diverge? Worth investigating to see if you're maximizing your time.

18. Give yourself a cut off for how much time you will spend on social media (or video games or online shopping or TV or etc etc etc) each day. You know how you're prone to waste your precious time. Be a drill sergeant on yourself. You won't be mad at yourself for it. 

19. Do not disturb button on your iPhone. Find the button. Embrace it. Every text message and email doesn't have to be attended to at the moment that it is received. Be a good steward of your time, energy, attention and brain power. If you're easily distracted, employ the power of "do not disturb."

20. Designated time off. In addition to taking a lunch break or exercise break mid-day, I encourage you to make sure you have long periods of time off each week. A Sabbath was invented for a reason! Give your time to rejuvenate, refresh and recalibrate. You'll be more effective the following week as a result.

Well, there's my list of 20 things every solopreneur must have to be successful. It's not comprehensive though. What would YOU add to the list? 

Hilary is passionate about helping people create work and lives that are wildly fulfilling. To learn how she may be able to help you, contact her here.

3 Surprising Things You Can Learn About Goals from Facebook

During the company's third-quarter earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg let the world in on his three, five, and ten-year plans for Facebook. Yep, Mark fully anticipates Facebook being around and relevant in ten years. His plans for the social network are specific, calculated, and gutsy.

What You Can Learn About Setting Goals from facebook

Mark zuckerberg

Mark zuckerberg

Take a cue from Zuckerberg and make your own three, five, and ten-year plans. Here’s what I noticed about his plans.

3-Year Goals

Zuck said,

“Over the next three years, our main goals are around continuing to grow and serve our existing communities and businesses and help them reach their full potential.”

Zuckerberg’s discussion of Facebook’s three-year plan centered around what’s currently happening and proving their approach is working.

What are you currently invested in regarding your career, relationships, and finances? Do you want to have anything to do with where you currently are in three years? If you don’t see yourself in the same industry, in the same relationship, or spending money in a similar way in three years, now’s the time to make those changes.

What’s working well in your life? Invest more there. For Zuckerberg it’s Facebook Groups and Instagram. For you, perhaps it’s the company you work for or your newfound love of biking. Take note of the aspects of your life that you want to cultivate long-term and focus your efforts there.

5-Year Goals

For Zuckerberg’s five-year plan he said,

“Over the next five years, our goals are around taking our next generation of services–Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Search–and helping them connect billions of people and become important businesses in their own right.” Zuckerberg continually uses the language “our goals are around.”

That begs the question—do you know what ideas your goals are around? What do you value most? This may not be your primary focus right now, but it will be in five years. Maybe in five years your goals are around getting a book published or starting a family. What can you do now to make solid investments toward that future?

Zuckerberg also mentioned plans to continue building on what the company is currently doing. He mentioned that just last month they finally completed the acquisition of Whatsapp. Facebook’s five-year plan has a lot to do with what’s happening at Facebook right now. The same is true for your life.

10-Year Goals

It’s pretty impressive that Facebook even has a ten-year plan. Ten years ago when Zuckerberg was a 20-year-old, could he have possibly “planned” where Facebook would be now? No matter how much the technology landscape can and will change, he can’t simply throw up his hands and say “well, there’s no way to plan for or predict the future that far down the road!” That’s business suicide. The same goes for you. You need to start dreaming and envisioning who you want to be in ten years today. It’s OK to be somewhat general and to center your vision on certain ideas you value. That’s kind of what Facebook is doing.

This is what Zuckerberg said:

“For the next 10 years our focus is on driving the fundamental changes in the world that we need to achieve our mission, connecting the whole world, understanding a world with big leaps in AIs, and developing the next generation of platforms, especially in computing.”

Facebook’s ten-year plan is focused on values-based decisions and “fundamental changes.” Zuckerberg envisions putting a lot of focus on one of his projects that will have a lasting legacy: internet.org. According to Zuckerberg, the internet.org app “provides free data access to a set of basic internet services for health, education, employment, and communication.” What will your legacy be? Begin thinking about this now.

Your goals and priorities probably looks pretty different than Zuckerberg's.  But approaching your career, personal life, and life’s purpose in a similar way will help you make decisions today that put you closer to the life you want to be living in the future.

Can you envision where you want to be in five years? What could you do today to contribute to that future? 

A version of this article first appeared on Levo League

10 Ways to Kick This Year in the Pants

Are you one of those mega motivated people who geek out on resolutions? Or maybe you're more of the skeptical, I-don't-want-to-disappoint-myself types who opts out—or maybe you like goals but aren’t into New Year’s resolutions because the date feels arbitrary. Either way, today I want to challenge you with ten ways you can start the year off with a BANG! If you could really do something about it, would you want this year to look different than last year? I have good news for you. YOU CAN!

You have 50 weeks left of this year. What will you do with them?

10 Ways to Kick Your Year in the Pants

1. Establish a Brain Trust. The truth is--you probably already have one. A Brain Trust is that go to personal board of directors who you seek out for advice when you're making big decisions, whose opinions you  weigh heavier than all the rest. Feel like your Brain Trust is a little too small? Seek out building relationships with people who you highly respect and value. You can also read all about the original Brain Trust in Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration.

2. Make a list of things you want to learn this year. You've always wanted to _________. What just popped in your mind? Why not go for it this year? What's stopping you? Ok, at least search for Youtube videos about it, ok?

3. Use this epic process by Christine Hassler to get clear on what you want to co-create this year. There are the goals that you may have already penned (after all we're a solid two weeks into 2015) but then there are deeper hopes and values that you have for this year that you may not have fully articulated yet. I encourage you to walk through Christine's process of what you want to leave in 2014 and what you want to manifest in 2015. This exercise can bring a ton of clarity.

4. Make a list of books you want to read this year. If you're like me your stack of books to read seems like a never-ending tower. This year, make a list--that you can review regularly--of the books that you will read. Plug it in to your calendar like any other activity you highly value. I was so sad when I realized how few books I read last year. I so value reading and have a bookshelf full of books to conquer this year. I know myself. The way to make that happen is to get specific on my to do list. It will happen if I plug this goal into my calendar.

5. Follow 5 inspiring people on Twitter that you aren't already following. Use these incredible tools called social networks to grow your experience. Not sure who to follow? How bout Billy Porter, Greg McKeown, Tanner Christensen, Maria Popova, or C.S. Lewis?

6. Make a vision board on Pinterest. Hat tip to Camryn for making this great suggestion! Take your 2015 goals and find visuals for them on Pinterest. I just did this (after spending Saturday going through #3 on this) and the visual representation of my plans and hopes for the year is pretty exhilarating.

7. Reach out to someone you've admired from afar (whether acquaintance, stranger or other) and ask them to grab coffee or lunch. Worst case scenario, they say no. Best case scenario, you've begun to establish a personal relationship with someone that you would like to know better.

8.Track your social media ROI. Every day take into account how your time on social media was spent, what the payoff was and what might have made you feel not so good. **Adjust accordingly.**

9. Get a pedometer of some kind and track your exercise. It's  so easy to *literally* hibernate in the winter. How bout you use this time where things are quiet and you're not pulled in a million directions to up your health and fitness game?

10. Commit to writing until you fill three pages each morning for 21 days. See how you feel about it afterward. I started doing this last fall when I journeyed through The Artist's Way. Guess what happened? I began to come up with idea after idea. One developed into a series of blogging workshops, and the other resulted in a side hustle that recouped its initial investment in three months. I'm not sure how to better convince you to write every morning.

What are you doing differently in 2015? What is your one big message for the world this year? What do you hope people remember about you?

Hilary is passionate about inspiring people to live their best lives. And if that happens through a performance on stage or through something she wrote, well then, she couldn't be happier.

HSL Around the Web: October in Review

October came and went before I had time to blink! I finished up Little Mermaid, celebrated my mom's birthday with the family for a few days in Florida, celebrated my 2nd wedding anniversary with a trip to California and then celebrated my husband's birthday in Washington D.C. I'm afraid I missed some of Virginia's prettiest leaves but I think all that celebrating was worth it. In the mean time, here are a few pieces I wrote over the last month. Enjoy!

8 Surprising Lessons Running Taught Me About Goal-setting Have you ever worked toward and succeeded at a fitness goal? I'd love to hear your story.

8 Podcasts You Should Listen To This Week Truth be told: I listen to podcasts when I'm running and in the shower. Are you a podcast-aholic too? What are your favorites?

What You Can Learn from Taylor Swift About Killing It on Social Media Did you hear more people bought her record in its first week than any other album since 2002?

I've got some exciting pieces coming down the pipe in the next month so stay tuned!

Keep up with HSL Creative on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

8 Surprising Lessons Running Taught Me about Goal-Setting

Photo (1)

I've never been a runner. In fact some of my earliest memories are of being a 4-year-old on a soccer team at the Y and strongly wanting to just skip to the post-game reward of a Capri Sun and a snack cake.

I have no memory of running an entire mile until I was at least 26. Ironically, my dad was a collegiate track runner. I've always just firmly believed I didn't get that gene.

Last year I stood at the finish line and celebrated my dad and husband when they finished the Virginia 10-Miler. It was so exciting! Over the summer I got the idea that I wanted to run the Virginia 4-Miler, an abbreviated version of the 10-miler course. It would be no easy task as on the same day I'd also be doing two performances of The Little Mermaid. But I knew with months of preparation and planning, I could do it.  I modified a running plan so I'd have no problem with the 4 mile race on a two-show day--even though, at the start, running a mile without stopping was a real challenge.

My training was empowering, thought-provoking and hard. I was away from a screen for at least an hour in the middle of my morning--a big deal for this writer/social media manager. I was forced to unplug regularly. And that time on the trail got me thinking. Over the course of the ten weeks I learned some really valuable lessons.

8 Lessons I Learned on Goal-Setting By Training for the Virginia 4-Miler

1. If you have a goal that only takes you to achieve, the odds are very much in your favor. This goal wasn't up to anyone but me. Sure, things like injuries could have prevented my goal from coming to fruition. But a goal like this one was mainly in my control. It was just me and the road.

2. A big goal broken down bit by bit is not overwhelming. Check off what you need to do that day. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Every week I simply had three days of running I had to accomplish. Whatever the plan said, I did. I just. kept. running.

3. To accomplish any goal you have to intrinsically desire to accomplish it. You can't be motivated by others. If your mom wants you to accomplish it or your boss wants you to accomplish it, that may be some incentive, but it's not going to get you across the finish line. You have to want it.

4. It's necessary to take into account other commitments and who else is affected by your goal. I knew I had to be serious about my training in order to be in good enough shape to run my race and then perform two shows in the same day. If I hadn't trained properly I might have injured myself or exhausted myself--affecting the entire performance. Remember that multiple aspects of your life are impacted by your goals.

5. When mental toughness and discipline are achieved in one area of life, it bleeds into other areas. Studies have proven that committed, disciplined runners also become disciplined in other areas of life. They eat more healthy and spend less. When you start to view yourself as someone you respect, you treat yourself better in other areas.

6. If you run in the morning you face the rest of your day already feeling like a winner. Accomplishing something right away in the morning empowers me to attack the rest of my day and expect great things to happen. I know that on days that I run I am more fully present with others  and invigorated to work with excellence.

7. It is empowering to choose your own label. I was never referred to as a "runner." Nobody ever told me I had my dad's "runner's build." But I trained and I ran a further distance than I ever anticipated that I could. In fact, I ran further. (The week before my race I ran 5 miles.) Deciding to become a runner and then doing it was pretty encouraging. What else could I decide to be or do?

8. A goal needs a specific "end by" date in order to be a goal and not just a dream. Hopes are great, but without a plan and a deadline they don't become a reality. I had to face the music on September 27, the day of the Virginia 4-Miler.

Doing anything challenging can be rewarding. C.S. Lewis said, "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." What lessons have you learned when you've set a goal and accomplished it?

Happy moment with Dad and Juan-Carlos after the race.
Happy moment with Dad and Juan-Carlos after the race.

5 Steps to Blogging Consistently

Perhaps one of your new year’s resolutions looks something like this:

I resolve to blog more than 17 times this year (even though it’s time-consuming and I feel dry of great ideas and no one is paying me to do it.) 

I feel you on all accounts.

Regular blogging is hard and time and energy consuming. And yet, catch-22---if you don’t do it regularly you don’t build an audience. So you can’t wait for inspiration to strike. You have to go and make inspiration happen. So what can you do to make the regular habit of blogging become a little more seamless?

1. Set up an editorial calendar. The editorial calendar for this blog is set up on a quarterly basis. So I know the exact dates I’m blogging for the next three months. I know when I’m writing, when I’m posting and when it goes live. This takes the guesswork out of my schedule. And seeing the exact dates that I’m posting over the next few months actually makes the process feel less daunting.

2. Determine your blog’s key concepts. The topic of your blog can be hyper specific but it doesn’t have to be. I blog here about a range of categories that fit somewhere within social media, impactful messaging, goal setting and creativity. After determining the key concepts of my blog, I then plug those into the dates that I know I’m going to blog. So, the 3rd Tuesday of this month I know I will be producing a piece that fits within the category of “impactful messaging.” This narrows the scope in a big way. Now I just have to determine what I want to tackle within that category.

3. Crank out some headlines within those categories and plug them into your editorial calendar. But know that these aren’t the 10 commandments--you can reschedule or revise later. The most important aspect of this step is just coming up with an idea (or two or three) that you can flesh out later. It’s much easier to come up with a headline within a specific category than to completely start from scratch.

4. Go ahead and draft an outline before you start fleshing out your post. I often write a headline for a blog post a few weeks out, then an outline a few days out, then finally flesh out the entire post the day before it goes live. By working in steps I don’t feel drained of creativity when it’s time to produce a post. And working in these steps gives me a framework for where I’m headed.

5. Determine a regular time that you have a date with your keyboard. Know when it’s time to write. When you sit down to write your blog post you’ve already given yourself the upper hand. You know when you’re writing, what your topic is generally about, your title for the blog post and you’ve even come up with a rough outline. This is the part where you take the ideas that have been buzzing through your mind and give them focused attention. By marinating on your ideas for several days or weeks this part of the process becomes easy. You just connect the dots.

Blogging more consistently is an incredibly worth goal. It’s well-known that content marketing and adding value to your tribe aside from a sales pitch is instrumental in today’s economy. Do you have your own blogging tips? Share below!